Emotional Distress Lawyer
Emotional distress is a legally recognized form of damage, which is compensable for the pain and suffering inflicted on a personal injury victim. In many cases emotional distress can be grounds to recover damages. Many personal injuries not only lead to obvious physical injuries but also emotional injuries that can negatively affect your life. Following conditions are common signs of emotional distress related to personal injury / tort actions.
- Humiliation / embarrassment
- Mental anguish
- Physical pain
Emotional distress can be divided into two different legal claims – intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) and negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED)
Intentional infliction of emotional distress is where you became emotionally injured by an outrageous and extreme behavior by a defendant. Such conduct must be intentional and so outrageous or malicious that it transcends the moral boundaries of a person in order to claim an IIED. Usually, the standard for IIED is set high that any disputes, verbal abuses or threats do not satisfy the standard.
Negligent infliction of emotional distress is more common of the two emotional distress to be recovered in a personal injury action. NIED occurs when an individual fails to use reasonable care, causing an emotional injury to the victim. In California, NIED does not require a showing of a physical injury. In the 1968 landmark decision of Dillon v. Legg, the Supreme Court of California was the first court to allow recovery for emotional distress alone – even in the absence of any physical injury to the plaintiff – in the particular situation where the plaintiff simply witnessed the death of a close relative at a distance, and was not within the “zone of danger” where the relative was killed. Over the years, this decision has been expanded into more nuances under California tort law. In 1994, negligent infliction of emotional distress was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court and became a part of federal common law.
In common scenario, a victim of a serious auto accident may also suffer an emotional distress. In addition, any passenger who is a relative, with or without an injury to the relative, may also suffer an emotional distress and both victims may receive compensations under negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Our firm handles emotional distress matters but only in conjunction with personal injury and tort issues.